BT’s broadband delivery division Openreach’s program to upgrade the UK’s old analogue telephone network (PSTN) to new digital products and services continues at a steady pace, with the announces 86 more exchange locations across the UK, covering around 500,000 premises, added to its program.
Openreach proposes that by December 2025, the PSTN will have reached the end of its life and that new digital services will be used. Indeed, the company will have to migrate more than 14 million traditional lines across the United Kingdom to new digital services.
Following the decision to shut down the PSTN, it was agreed to test the processes for migrating customers to fiber optic services – and ultimately to withdraw existing copper services and rental products from wholesale line (WLR) dependent on it – in two places. When 75% of homes and businesses connected to a particular exchange can get full fiber, end users will not be able to purchase legacy copper products if full fiber is available in their premises.
The program aims to prevent homes and businesses from purchasing copper broadband if they upgrade, downgrade, or change telecommunications providers, and will instead be able to order only fiber to the premises (FTTP or full-fiber). broadband networks. Voice services will be an addition to broadband, rather than a full service.
Salisbury was the first stock exchange in the UK to stop sale status in December 2020, and in May 2021 a trial started in the town of Mildenhall in Suffolk.
Openreach chose these test sites because it saw them as typical exchange areas, representative of others in the UK in terms of geography, range of communications providers (such as BT, PlusNet, Sky, TalkTalk, Zen) offering Openreach services and the mix of business and consumers.
The trials saw the provision of voice services over high-speed connections, such as Generic Single-Control Ethernet Access (SoGEA), its faster upgrade SoGfast, and the Single-Control Transient Access (SOTAP) product, over which providers can provide broadband voice and IP services.
The test at Mildenhall was also specifically designed to allow Openreach and communication providers to test and develop new products and processes to make the migration easier for customers, including those who rely on special services such as elevators. and alarms, and it is in this area that trouble could lie in wait for us.
The latest expansion in the program brings the total number of exchange locations where Openreach plans to stop selling traditional analog services to 379, covering a total of 3.4 million premises. It has now issued a 12-month notice that it will stop selling copper services on those 86 exchanges. The locations include towns in all four of the UK’s countries, including the Scottish Isles.
“In just over two years, Openreach will stop selling products that rely on the PSTN,” said James Lilley, director of customer migration management at Openreach. “And over the next five years, we’ll be upgrading some 14 million analog lines – including the now aging traditional landline service – to fully Internet digital protocol. [All-IP].
“Ultimately, the plan is to phase out all services that rely on the old PSTN by December 2025, and from that point on, the communications providers will own the delivery of voice services. This is a very big deal for our industry. We are upgrading the UK’s digital infrastructure as we build our all-fiber network to 25 million homes and businesses by 2026. ”
However, Openreach has previously warned that if users have anything connected to a phone line, such as a care or security alarm, they will need to check with the equipment vendor if their devices can operate on the new fiber network. . In addition, old telephones – currently powered by the local telephone exchange – could be cut off from the new network in the event of a power failure. In this scenario, Openreach said users might have to “do something different” to make home phone calls.